Wow – what a powerful ending that was, especially that tense staring match between Sim Chung and Joon Jae where the truth of both their identities came out. I have to admit I was disappointed that Joon Jae didn’t meet his mother and that Shi ah didn’t join in the dinner at Jin Joo’s place, but the fallout of that incident was greater than what I expected.
I loved the unspoken confrontation between Joon Jae and Sim Chung because it brings out a problematic aspect of the show that hasn’t quite been addressed, which is the fact that our protagonist is a conman and we’re supposed to be rooting for him. Regardless of his family issues and background, there’s no running away from the fact that he’s committing crimes and lying to manipulate people. Even if it’s the spirit of “robin hood” (i.e. stealing from rich to give to the poor), it’s still against the law. This episode brings that to the forefront as Sim Chung stares upon Joon Jae, in stern anger and condemnation when she realises he’s a conman. In fact, her realisation that something is amiss with him begins from the moment they enter the gate and Joon Jae tells her not to call him by his name. Throughout the meal at Jin Joo’s place, she’s silent because things are not right.
It’s bold and daring for the show to confront this because it almost breaks the romantic nature of the attraction between Sim Chung and Joon Jae. Now that Sim Chung knows he’s a conman and his words cannot be trusted, will she still love him with that single-hearted devotion? When she holds on to her heart at the end of the episode, my interpretation of it is that her heart is broken and disappointed because firstly, she can no longer trust this man’s words and he may not actually have a plan to love her. Secondly, and even more importantly, her view of him has changed and she cannot bring herself to love him anymore too. Both interpretations are valid as Sim Chung is increasingly being emphasised as being a moral compass for Joon Jae, as he’s starting to look into a job in the civil service and in this episode, Nam Doo also expresses his concerns that Sim Chung will turn him good.
It might ultimately turn out that Nam Doo is the big villain and not Dae Young. Given that Nam Doo has worked so hard to convert Joon Jae and win him over to his side, he wouldn’t so easily allow him to turned to the good side. I’ve always sensed that the relationship between Nam Doo and Joon Jae was more functional more than a friendship. I’m quite sure Nam Doo will have no issues turning on both Joon Jae and Sim Chung if he discovers there’s potential for much greater benefit for him.
The show is now moving into more serious territory by more concretely establishing the connections between the past and present. In doing so, so many questions are being raised. Why are events of the past repeating in the present? Why does Joon Jae need to protect the mermaid? Why does Dam Ryung die so young? How is it that Joon Jae can now hear Sim Chung’s thoughts? We are led to believe that the memories from Spain have started flooding back to Joon Jae – how come?
I do hope we get some satisfactory answers or clues in next week’s episodes.